Handling Disappointment

Life is full of disappointments.

Its not cheery, but its true. They come in all shapes and sizes and they matter.

I’ve been journeying through a few disappointments recently. Some of them big, some of them small, some personal and some relational.

As we grow up we learn so many practical and educational things but not many people grow up with someone teaching them to properly care for their hearts and handle their emotions. When it comes to handling disappointment I admit Ive never really known what to do. I guess Ive mashed together what I saw around me growing up with what Ive learnt from observing both the world and the church. The messages Ive received go something like this…

  • keep calm and carry on
  • have a good attitude
  • find the positive in it
  • be sad inside but don’t show it
  • but on a brave face in front of people
  • handle with humour, sarcasm and diminishment
  • toughen up and move on

Ive chosen to disregard most of those ways. They don’t work for me.

Im trying a different way, a more honest way, a more wholehearted way, a way that honours my story, reflects my faith, grows my character. A way that keeps me soft, open, willing to risk and try again. A way that I would advise others to do but struggle to give myself the grace for. By no means have I got this nailed but I’ve been trying this instead of the above….

  • Brutal honesty in prayer, there’s no point of sugar coating stuff with God…he knows what we really think and feel, and he resides in our reality not our denial.
  • Honesty with my family and a trusted few.
  • Acknowledging and owning my disappointment and other consequential feelings.
  • Catching and rejecting lies about God, myself and others that come up.
  • Allowing myself to fully feel the range of emotions that ensue.
  • Acknowledging that whatever it is matters.
  • Receiving love and comfort from the Lord.
  • Mourning what I’ve lost if its a big disappointment
  • Looking forward with gratitude and hope….I’m going to be ok
  • Seeing what I can learn from it

That sounds like a lot but considering most of this stuff happens in our minds and we think thousands and thousands of thoughts every day its not really. I want to give you an example of how this looks with a real situation to bring it to life.

I had a writing rejection last week and I was deeply sad and disappointed. When I got the email I knew immediately that it was a big moment, I felt the weight of it, I knew my response was critical. I could sense the love of the Father so strongly inviting me to walk with him right from the beginning, I knew there much freedom he wanted to teach me.

Its personal and raw but I want to walk you through it, because God walked me through it and it was hard, beautiful and worth sharing.

I got the email in front of Jon and Sophia as I read it out I tried not to cry, I knew instantly, this is worth tears…let them come…so I did. I wanted to harden up to protect Sophia but instead I was vulnerable in an age appropriate way, giving her permission to be sad when she is disappointed. I wanted to go inward and shut Jon out, but I softened and let him comfort me. It was so hard and so holy.

It was time for the school run and Jon offered to do it and take Soph. I wanted to say no, I hate feeling like a burden, but I didn’t I gave in and let him help me. It was so hard and so holy.

The dog needed a pee so I took him out in the garden, horrible thoughts assaulted my mind

‘Your a rubbish mum anyway, your not the right person to have written that book’

‘Your writing isn’t good enough’

‘Just give up’

‘Im totally overwhelmed, Im never looking at it again’

I wanted to agree with the negative thoughts, indulge in them, let them grow, allow in negativity and self pity. But I didn’t I rejected them and replaced them with truth

‘Im an imperfect writer and mum but I try my best’

‘I can cope’

‘Im not giving up’

It was so hard and so holy.

I went upstairs got in the bath and sobbed my heart out, I felt ridiculous but it was so releasing. I prayed, I read psalms, I journaled honestly about it all. I fought against ‘putting my best foot forward’ and ignoring what I felt, I let all my emotions pour out. This took a couple of days because Im a mum and my life isn’t filled with endless hours to reflect, but I found the time when I could. It was so hard and so holy.

I spoke to a couple of people I love and trust about it all. I wanted to sound super spiritual and say all the right things, I wanted to make jokes to lighten it all, but I didn’t. I let their words of love and encouragement come into my heart, I told the truth about how I was doing. It broke down my pride and faking it. It was so hard and so holy.

One of the most beautiful parts of it all was chatting it though with my kids. Letting them see me sad, inviting them into my process with the Lord, letting them see that I get affected by life too, and thats its ok to have feelings. Showing them we can be disappointed without giving up hope.

Finally I began to look forward with hope and honesty, trusting the Lord for my future. Im still figuring out all that Ive learnt through the rejection and disappointment, but one things for sure Ive learnt how to handle my heart better in disappointment! Im shedding off the false messages and destructive coping mechanisms. Im saying no to medicating, distracting and diminishing my pain, and you know what I feel good. I feel hopeful for the future.

Sorry for the long blog, it was a long journey!

As always I hope it gets you thinking about your own story

Love Emma x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sabbath; practising a value driven life

As a family we aim to practise sabbath. A day of rest, delight, fun, beauty and togetherness.  Sunday through Friday is busy with life. Like most families we juggle work, school, cooking, cleaning, shopping, after school clubs, church, friendships, exercise and a few surprises along the way! So Saturday is a day apart from duty and obligation. It is removed from expectation and demands. We all love it.

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Two weeks ago we got a puppy and it’s been a little crazy to say the least. Where some vague routine used to exist it’s plunged into survival mode. The previous 7 weeks included 4 trips away, although sabbath is something we practise….let’s just say it’ been a while.

I woke up on Thursday and I was done. The house quite understandably was a tip and my abiliy to cope with it was over. I decided when Saturday came we were going to have a sabbath. I know myself and my family well enough to know we never rest as well in chaos. Rest is not just a lack of activity it’s a state of mind.

So for 2 days we all chipped in and cleaned and tidied the whole house. At 7pm last night after 48 hours I finished the final touches and set the table for the following morning. I sat down and chilled….it was worth the work, I relaxed and slept like a baby.

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I woke up and I felt so light,  the joy of just walking through a clean house, eating, reading, playing, laughing and connecting,  without the weight of jobs that would normally need to be done. The kids felt valued and seen as a special place was set for them at the table in place of the normal rush and grab of a bowl of cereal

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We took our time, we went out for a walk and giggled at Barney diving in the sand. We ate chips in the car then came home to a movie

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I’m typing this in the bath now the 24 hours nearly over. We never switch off on a Saturday night with last minute plans and thoughts for church on a Sunday. So this 24 hours is our good gift given to us by a good God if we will take the time to plan for it and time accept it

Every Saturday is not perfect. That’s not a standard I would ever try and aim for.  I don’t want a perfect life.  That doesn’t’ exist. But I do fight to live by my values and sabbath is a value that keeps our family, faith and sanity strong.  It let’s our kids know they are important. I remember I am a human being and not a human doing. We all remember that we are loved for who we are and not what we do.

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Is there a lapsed discipline or delight in your life?

Have you ever considered a sabbath? Life is busy,  our minds and timetables are busy. Every family is different and a whole day doesn’t’ work for everyone,  could you set apart a few hours?

Do you need a rest?

Love Emma x

Own it!

 

 

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Earlier this year my husband and I went on a 4 day retreat in North Carolina called the 18 inch journey, a head to heart experience of who God is and who we are in him. When we came back naturally lots of people asked us ‘how was it?’ which was a hard question to answer about something so deeply personal that has impacted us so profoundly.

But now almost 6 months months later I want to share with you one simple thing that I learnt. Im ready to share it now because for 6 months Ive practised it consistently, and its starting to bear fruit….

Own it.

Own your life, your story, your victories, your sins, your failures, your disappointments, your joys and your frustrations. Because until you own something you don’t posses it, and if you don’t possess it, you can neither keep it or give it away.

Being aware of things is not the same as owning them. Lots of people are well aware of their limitations, damaging behaviours and bad habits. But finding true breakthrough and freedom from these things doesn’t come easy. Well it hasn’t come easy for me thats for sure.

It goes back to the garden. I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.

We’ve all been hiding in one form or another since then. An example of my experience would be something like this. I shout at the kids over something minor, then I feel a pang of guilt and shame ( I was afraid ) I feel embarrassed to have acted out in front of my family ( I was naked ) So I either ignore it or blame someone else ( So I hid )

Owning simple moments like the one described above is simple but not always easy to do. It means coming out of hiding, saying no to pride and being humble.

‘Im sorry for shouting guys’. Full stop. No buts…. ‘Im sorry for shouting guys, but you are driving me crazy’ Doesn’t count as owning the behaviour thats just blaming someone else for it.

We use wonderful excuses to validate our thoughts and behaviours, we think or say things like:

‘Oh well, you know what I’m like I just can’t keep quiet about anything’

‘Im just an angry person I can’t help overreacting’

‘I hate confrontation thats just how I am so Im not going to say anything to my coworker for publicly disrespecting me, I don’t like to cause a fuss.’

‘they always push my buttons and make me respond like this, if only they pulled themselves together I would never react badly’

Judge. Blame. Run. Hide.

So basically my major spiritual breakthrough this year has come from saying sorry. A lot.  I can literally feel myself softening and changing every time I say no to pride and yes to humility. Im starting to become less critical and judgemental of others as I do the simple and profound work of owning my life.

And today something incredible happened, it was small, invisible if you weren’t paying attention, but joy exploded in my heart as I watched one of my kids reject pride and own something. This small thing was the fruit of the spirit growing in our home right in front of our eyes.

They had misplaced something for a while and found it this morning. ‘I found my thing’ they shouted up the stairs ‘it was in my bag, someone must have put it there’. ‘no one really goes in you bag, are you sure it couldn’t have been you’ I responded ready for the battle I was sure that was coming about everything being someone else’s fault. He responded ‘ You’re right, I must have put them in there and forgot’

Jon and I just looked at each other in shock, ‘did he just admit something was his fault….’ For this child this is a big deal.

You better believe we celebrated this victory with him and Im happy to share it with you. Part of breaking down pride and owning your life is being able to share both the failures and the victories…otherwise you get false humility….and don’t even get me started on that!

The way I live my life and respond to things affects people, and yours does too. Our children particularly are unconsciously absorbing the way we deal with life and learning from it. Thats a fact.

I could have shared with you 1000 stories of failure in this area of my life but Im choosing to share this tiny victory because it works. Owning your life works!

Maybe saying sorry isn’t something you struggle with but just fill in the bank. Cant accept a compliment? Why is that? Cant have anyone disagree with you? Cant accept criticism? Cant let things go? Go silent and passive in the face of difficulty? Flip out every time you make a mistake?

The list is endless, and Im here to break the news that just trying really hard to act right doesn’t bring breakthrough. Thats just a recipe for a pressure cooker, I shouldn’t be angry, ram down the emotion, I shouldn’t be angry, ram down the emotion over and over smiling sweetly until one day a lady treads on your toe at the bus stop and you explode like Hulk. Theres a better way;

One of the kindest and wonderful gifts of the gospel is repentance. Super religious word with some weird connotations. But honestly I love repentance, don’t know what Id do without it. The freedom and joy that comes from admitting stuff, saying sorry to God and any people if applicable, then turning away from that thing towards freedom. Thats all repentance is and its amazing.

Anyway there you go, heart on my sleeve

I pray it helps you today

Love Emma

 

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The gift of correction

Sometimes we have to go back to go forward.

I love progress.

I hate going backwards.

I’ve got this niggly shoulder injury, Ive had it for years. Its never bad enough to really stop me doing anything, so I just ignore it and keep hammering on when it hurts. Turns out my body isn’t letting me do that anymore and last week I had to go and see someone about it.

My lovely boss Jenny worked away trying to loosen and relieve tension from my left shoulder. I wanted answers and a solution and I wanted them immediately! I don’t have the time or patience for process with this, I asked her ” Is it tense?, Can you see why it hurts sometimes?” To which she responded “It is so incredibly tense, Im surprised it doesn’t hurt all the time…”

Right OK.  I went into the Pilates studio as a student this morning, as I often do. Jenny kept gently correcting me and showing me the subtle bad habits I have picked up. These habits are small, unnoticeable to most in fact, but they are there slowly but surely damaging my shoulder.

Where my body isn’t strong and stable enough at its deepest level, other muscles switch on take the load they aren’t meant to carry. When I do a full press up or roll up or plank I look like Im doing it correctly but I’m not and over time I’m damaging my body.

So I’m on a slow, corrective, take it easy kind of plan for my shoulder. Even as I type Im annoyed, I hate slowing down! Im going back to basics, I have to retrain my brain and my body to do the work properly, building back up using the right muscles at the right time. Jenny’s correction is a gift to me should I choose to listen to it and do the work.

Sometimes we have to go back to go forward.

When we moved to Dunbar and started a church there was a lot of going back to basics. Stepping back and allowing God to teach us things all the time. As we have worked with other churches and different people, as we have faced our own failings, as we have parented without the support of wider family we have been given great opportunity to learn and grow.

Our everyday life is a fantastic teacher, and close friends and leaders can help us so much if we go to them humbly and allow them into our story. I want to be awake to my life. To my thoughts, words and actions. To take responsibility for my life and allow Jesus to grow me into his image.

The church plant has been an amazing tool for personal growth and mirror to see the truth. But I think being a mum is just as great a teacher. When my little humans run around displaying my less than desirable attitudes or reactions its an amazing opportunity to be corrected.

I’m the kind of person who can be thinking and feeling a hundred different thoughts at any given moment. I wake up and my mind launches straight out the starting blocks. At my core are some deep seated beliefs about myself and God which shape a lot of those thoughts and emotions.

I’m not enough.

God isn’t fair.

I must control and understand everything to be safe.

Fill in the blank………..

So I guess just like you I have a choice, do I keep hammering on and ignoring the brokenness in my life? Or do I slow down and head back into my story for healing and freedom?

Just like my dodgy shoulder shows up every time I exercise, my deepest beliefs show up every time I’m challenged in life. Giving time to go back to basics and allow the Holy Spirit and a trusted few to correct me is my gift.

Do you allow God and a trusted few to correct you?

The truth is I am worth the time and the effort to be whole and so are you.

Happy Monday!

Love Emma

 

 

Chaos, clothes and cleansing

I’m sat on my bedroom floor surrounded by utter chaos. Actually I’m sat right in it, in piles of clean clothes (and a few dirty ones) so I can keep my iPad on charge and write this quick unedited post while the kids are all content.

  
I woke early today after a late night and dragged myself out of bed, the need for a bit of solitude greater than my need for sleep. Groggy and grumpy I sat with my bible and journal and tried to connect, it was hard going at first and I ended up flicking through an old journal and reading. 

What I found brought me to tears, I saw myself and my striving through an unusual lense of kindness and mercy, instead of my usual critical and ‘try harder’ lense. I saw how much I try and fail and try and fail to have everything together. I sensed the Fathers smile and warmth over me and my efforts to live in relationship with Him. I ditched my agenda and just sat accepting that I am loved just as I am, room full of chaos and all.

Life has been really full recently. Full of trips, visitors, possibilities and challenges. Within it all I’ve lost any sense of rhythm and the care of my spiritual life, my home and my body have dissolved. Slowly and silently little foxes come in. I let worry and anxious thoughts run riot in my mind, I scroll mindlessly on my phone, I go to bed too late and sleep poorly, I speak and react without thinking, I don’t tidy properly and walk around my house in frustration at the chaos that is everywhere. 

Order leaves and clutter and chaos come and fill the void.

Sometimes we try and climb the mountain and put all the good stuff back in before we clear out the bad… It never works.

Sometimes a cleanse is needed.

We all know it In a physical way after lots of partying or over eating our body needs a cleanse, our houses sometimes need a cleanse, a sping clean. So do our spirits. What does that look like? 

For me it looks like going to bed early so I can get up early. It looks like order and routine. It looks like ditching the internet on my phone. It looks like treating myself with kindness and mercy, taking it one day at a time and embracing the messy process. It looks like time outside and time alone. It looks like repentance and intentional thought towards my thoughts, words and decisions. It looks like love.

It also looks like cleaning and decluttering my home and body, because we are one. Body, soul and spirit, mind, will and emotions. One affects the other.

How about you? Is there an area in your life that feels like chaos and could do with a cleanse? If so pray, start slowly, embrace the process and be kind to yourself like you would a friend or your child if they were struggling. Reject overwhelm and just begin.

I’m starting where I am. I’m starting with sorting and putting away clothes….

If this encourages you today, let me know your start point and I will be praying for you

Love Emma x

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Crispy around the edges 

I got up early this morning.

I’ve been trying on and off for months with little success to get out of bed bright and early before my already bright and early household. I got the bread in the oven grabbed a hot water and lemon (caffeine mostly off  limits for now…another story! ) I gathered my books and journal and sat at the desk. I never sit here but I felt drawn to it today. 

I opened my journal and read over my last entry, which was about 3 weeks ago….I felt instantly sad that I hadn’t been to my journal for that long, as it is a source of life for me. I began reading and saw that the things I had written, I had’nt implemented either…

Sadness was moving like a freight train past conviction into guilt and condemnation. It’s not even 6am and I’m feeling terrible. I got up to fill my mind and heart with God and start my day well, and instead it’s filled with self condemnation.

I look up and stare mindlessly at the plant on the desk, a source of further irritation as I see one of the beautiful peace lily leaves browning and curling around the edges. I can’t even water the sodding plant I inwardly berate myself. I twist off the ruined leaf and put it down by plant. I try to get back to my journal but I’ve nothing to write.

I pick up the half dead leaf and begin to twiddle with it unsure of what to do. I begin to write and my pen runs out…..my frustration levels are rising, I place the pen down calmly and rummage in the drawer for another. I come across the kids crayons and an idea enters my mind to draw the leaf. I feel slightly ridiculous as I am unable to draw and to be honest what’s the point? That will take up all my time to do something productive. I decide to go for it. I know I am the leaf. Not watered enough and becoming pot bound. I too am curling and crispy around the edges.

I breathe out the frustration and begin to draw. Because I have no clue what I’m doing I have to concentrate and be slow. This is both hard for me and a sense of absolute relief because my mind runs at a million an hour for most of the day. I feel myself soothing and I sense Gods smile. 

I’ve been set up.

Holy Spirit is our inner compass, our guide and our friend. I believe he wooed me to the desk this morning because my effort and striving to have my life together would have got me nowhere today. I needed to relax, accept my reality. I’m loved just as I am.

I believe with my whole heart in abiding with God, in soaking in the vine you will see it is the basis of this blog. But round the mountain I go again.

Even as I write now I feel the temptation to edit, and twist the truth a bit. Man I hate failure. But I’m still typing and I will not edit my life. My value of authenticity is a non negotiable. The beauty and the power is in the mess. It’s in the failing and the getting up. It’s in the fact that I try again and although not completly free and light, I’m miles on from where I was. We don’t need perfect people to encourage us along the journey…who can relate to them! 

Have a great weekend and I pray you find a little bit of time to do something that brings you life. For me today I’m laying aside productivity and I’m going to try my best to relax and have some fun. Hopefully I will be slightly less crispy around the edges tomorrow. 
  

Eyes wide open

On a Tuesday morning I have a 20 minute drive alone to work. The drive takes me along beautiful country roads, around plenty of lovely twists and turns with a mix of woodlands and sweeping vistas over fields and out to the ocean. It’s a time I cherish and use to quiet myself and pray. But I’ve noticed recently it’s turned into more of a time to worry, with a vague awareness of God, and maybe a couple of one line prayers thrown in. Something that once punctuated my week with hope and space has been lost.

This morning I got about 5 minutes into the drive before I finally became conciously aware of my thoughts, without noticing I realised I was grappling with some negative thoughts that weren’t going anywhere good. I’m all for grappling and wrestling with stuff, as long as it’s headed somewhere hopeful, and done in the light of how good God is….these thoughts were not like that.

We all have our battles, and a lot of them begin in the mind, and one of mine is fear. Fear of the future, fear of tragedy, fear of what could be. Fear is a big thing to fight, and I don’t mind admitting that I haven’t been on the winning side recently. Some prayer with friends a couple of weeks ago marked a shift in me and I began to find hope and sense the radiance of God and how much bigger he was than my fear. 

I heard a great quote from Bill Johnson this week. He said we don’t fight fear by engaging with it, but my shifting our focus onto who God is and how good he is. Then His love casts out fear. I factually know this to be true but this week I’ve begun to actually experience this truth, as it’s made it’s way from my head to my heart.

So today 5 minutes into my sacred Tuesday morning drive I make a choice, I don’t engage with my thoughts of fear, I don’t try to pray my way out. Instead I try something new and I surrender. Now I’m a pretty strong willed, determined personality and surrender is not my go to! But today I did and I began to ask God to show me his goodness, and boom sure enough the fear was gone.

In the sunrise, was his faithfulness. In the bird of prey was his majesty, in the old castle was his sovereignty, in the winter trees were his steadfastness, in the ocean was his vastness and in my heart and mind was his peace. I stopped to cry and took this photo of the sunrise. 

We try so hard, and he just wants us to let go and trust him.

He is so good.

This Christmas time my prayer is going to be, open my eyes to see you everywhere and in everything. I invite you to pray it too. He came to earth, born a man, died on a cross on rose again so we could know him.

I pray in all the fun, chaos, wider family and presents that you have eyes wide open to see him in the most wonderful and surprising of places, and that you can celebrate and be full of joy whatever you are facing.

Merry Christmas

Thank you for reading 

Love Emma 

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